Making Data Great Again
Making Data Great Again


The advent of big data means that the time has come for change in the way in which we collect and use data on human beings. However, that change needs to be effected in a thoughtful, careful way so that we don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

There is enormous potential to use such data to improve decision making at all levels of government. The barriers are complex but at their core stem from (i) lack of local capacity to access and use data and (ii) lack of evidence of the value. Much can be gained when local stakeholders develop use-cases and create value from data sources specific to a jurisdiction. The combination of human and technical approaches is critical success.

We have been developing a multi-step approach to foster data-driven decision making in regional development efforts so that locally driven efforts can grow into a robust, scalable system. Each phase serves the dual purposes of (a) building local capacity while (b) developing useful data and analytic products.
The analytics training programs are delivered in a secure remote access environment. They include a mix of targeted introductory material appropriate for a wide audience and tailored sessions specific to jurisdictions. The focus is on facilitating the creation of national standards from the bottom up, directly via (i) a secure, analytics computing platform in which the underlying code and data itself can be shared and evaluated, (ii) conferences and workshops to convene key stakeholders across the community, and (iii) ongoing support to provide continuity of methodologies across jurisdictions.


Julia Lane is a Professor in the Wagner School of Public Policy at New York University. She is also a Provostial Fellow in Innovation Analytics and a Professor in the Center for Urban Science and Policy at NYU. Dr. Lane is an economist and has authored over 65 refereed articles and edited or authored seven books. She has been working with a number of national governments to document the results of their science investments. Her work has been featured in several publications including Science and Nature. Dr. Lane started at the National Science Foundation (as Senior Program Director of the Science of Science and Innovation Policy Program) to quantify the results of federal stimulus spending, which is the basis of the new Institaute for Research on Innovation and Science at the University of Michigan. Dr. Lane has had leadership positions in a number of policy and data science initiatives at her other previous appointments, which include Senior Managing Economist at the American Institutes for Research; Senior Vice President and Director, Economics Department at NORC/University of Chicago; various consultancy roles at The World Bank; and Assistant, Associate and Full Professor at American University. Dr. Lane received her PhD in Economics and Master's in Statistics from the University of Missouri.

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